Shirley Ballas became emotional as she appeared on Loose Women to pay tribute to Len Goodman. The former Strictly Come Dancing judge died on Saturday, April 22, before it was announced by his family and his agent on Monday, April 24.
The 78-year-old's family confirmed the BBC One star had passed after a 'short illness', saying he had been in a hospice before he died. A spokeswoman for Len, who the publication says had bone cancer, told MailOnline: "I can confirm he died peacefully over the weekend surrounded by his family."
Agent Jackie Gill has also said in a statement: “It is with great sadness to announce that Len Goodman has passed away peacefully, aged 78. A much-loved husband, father and grandfather who will be sorely missed by family, friends and all who knew him."
Len was the former head judge of Strictly from its launch in 2004 until 2016 and was hugely popular with fans of the hit dance contest. As well as Strictly, he also appeared on the US version of the show, Dancing With the Stars from 2005 until he stepped back in 2022.
Tributes flooded in for the TV star and former dancer, including from members of the Strictly family both past and present. Taking to Instagram, host Tess Daly sent her condolences to Len's family, including his wife Sue, writing: "So very sad to hear the news today of the passing of our Len Goodman.
"A beautiful man, genuine, warm and humble, who left an impression on everyone he met. I'll never forget the fun we had on set, his love and passion for dancing and that wonderfully cheeky smile lit up the screen."
Strictly co-host Claudia Winkelman also paid tribute. In a tweet, she wrote: "I’m so sad about Len. He was one of a kind, a brilliant and kind man. Full of twinkle, warmth and wit. Sending all love to his family and friends." Craig Revel-Horwood, who was a judge on the programme until 2020, tweeted: "I’ve just woken up to the sad news that my gorgeous colleague and dear friend Len Goodman has passed away.
"My heart and love go out to his lovely Sue and family. Len Goody Goodman is what I always called him and “It’s a ten from Len & seveeeeern” will live with me forever. RIP Len". Meanwhile Bruno Tonioli hailed Len 'my perfect 10,' writing in a tweet: "Hart broken [sic] my dear friend and partner for 19 years the one and only ballroom LEGEND #LenGoodman passed away I will treasure the memories of our adventures @bbcstrictly @officialdwts there will never be anyone like you you will always be my perfect 10".
After sharing her own tribute on social media, Shirley appeared on Loose Women to remember her friend. Strictly's head judge, who had known Len since she was nine-years-old, said the final time she saw him, she knew he was secretly battling with his health behind closed doors.
Shirley said she was visiting her son Mark Ballas as he competed in another series of Dancing With The Stars last year, which he eventually won, and remembered even though Len looked 'quite frail', he still beckoned her over for a hug. "I think it's very difficult for all my particular industry because I separate Strictly and Dancing With The Stars," she said of the loss.
"But I've known Len from a very small child and I have a lot of good friends in the industry and we all loved Len. He was a really big part of our lives and he was an icon and humour. He could make the rain go away and he was such a beautiful human being. Of course later in my career I trained with him.
"He was probably responsible for you know, saying to me, 'Shirley, you can take your work seriously, but stop taking yourself so seriously' because I was such a person that wanted to learn all about the technique. And he taught me more about the human spirit. So and I will take that with me forever. He's was just so wonderful. He really was."
Shirley then shared a little-known fact about Len, which was he loved to write poetry and rhymes, especially when people were married and was always writing. After reading out one of his poems, the 'Queen of Latin' started to well up as she said: "Every step I will be thinking about him."
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